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Northcentral Lawmakers Host Forum to Address Juvenile Justice Reform

Posted on November 30, 2021


SUFFIELD – A regional Juvenile Justice Forum was held at Suffield Middle School on Monday evening. The event was co-hosted by several area legislators including State Reps. Carol Hall (R-Enfield), Tami Zawistowski (R-East Granby), Mark Anderson (R-Granby),  and Craig Fishbein (R-Wallingford), as well as State Sen. John Kissel (R-Enfield). The Ranking Member of the legislature’s Judiciary Committee, Rep. Craig Fishbein, delivered a presentation that detailed years of legislative reform that has resulted in an ineffective juvenile justice system. These reforms include raising the age of when an individual can be charged, what penalties can and cannot be assessed, and how long certain individuals can be held in custody. The presentation also focused on what proposals Republicans plan to bring forward to address the situation. These reforms included stricter monitoring, greater ability for law enforcement to hold juveniles after a felony arrest, and to ensure the courts have the resources needed to make informed decisions about each case.

“In order to restore the public’s safety in communities across our state, we need engaged residents who want to help be a part of the solution, so I want to thank all of the concerned residents who took the time to attend our forum on Monday night,” Rep. Hall said. “When you continue to dumb down juvenile laws to the point where there is essentially no fear of punishment for criminal activity, you can’t expect crime to decrease. Unfortunately, these lax laws are the reason why we’re seeing an enormous rise in car thefts and high-speed chases.”

“Our balanced approach concentrates on protecting the public from repeat offenders while helping those who have ventured down the wrong path,” said Rep. Zawistowski. “With the legislative session convening in February, we have several actionable proposals on the table that would help provide better supervision and services to youths who have been identified to be at-risk. Additionally, these proposals seek to give greater flexibility to the court system and local law enforcement in instances of a serious juvenile arrest.”

“Well-intentioned but misguided juvenile justice reforms have made both juveniles and the public less safe. It is well-past time for a special legislative session to enact common sense changes to our current systems,” said Rep. Anderson. “The House Republican Caucus has been out front and center on this pressing concern for the last several months now. It’s time to act.”

“We are working to bring about a safer Suffield and a safer Connecticut,” said Sen. Kissel, who represents north-central Connecticut and serves as Ranking Senator on the legislature’s Judiciary Committee.  “We are focused on prevention and opportunity, crime response, as well as police and community support. That includes law enforcement recruitment, modifications to laws to help police officers to do their jobs, and building better relationships between young people and their community officers. We thank area residents for participating in our forum, and the public dialogue will continue.”

“These forums have been an important way to inform the public of the strengths and weaknesses of our current state laws, the actual results of various reforms to our Juvenile Justice system, and the changes House Republicans have proposed that will provide law enforcement with the proper tools to stop these crimes,” Rep. Fishbein said. “I want to thank the concerned citizens who came out to learn more and my colleagues for bringing the community together for this important discussion.”

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